Saturday, December 24, 2011

Naughty Nolan - A Christmas Eve Tale

Although the whole week had been frantically busy - the kind of busy that finds you standing at your desk, wondering where the hot cocoa went that you had just poured for yourself only five minutes before, fragrant and steaming into your favorite Santa mug, only to find it, unexplainably, in the freezer by the bag of half-empty frozen peas - that busyness had slowed down. All the major work was done: the wrapping, the packing, the preparing, the readying. This last half-day was for finishing up odds-and-ends, for checking it all twice, for the calm before the proverbial storm.

It should have stayed that way, at least until Pre-Launch. But the siren rent the peace of  the relative quiet, peppermint-scented air, causing everyone to jump.

"You have got to be kidding me," said Fred, checking the readings on the monitor.

Fae adjusted her hat, which had almost slid off her head when the siren caused her to jump a foot into the air. She really, really did not want to know. Not now. Not so close.

"Who the Bells would be Naughty this close to the Big Day?" commented Sid, coming over to peek around Fred. "I mean, really..."

Moments before, Fae had been re-checking the List. Not twice, but like for the 100th time. Her mind was still half on her checklist. But she needed to change her

"No one panic," she said, as calmly as she could. " I am sure it is either a bad reading, or just a case of a Christmas Fit."

"I dunno, Fae," Fred replied, still checking the monitor. "This looks like it might be serious."

Great, Fae thought to herself. That is all we need.

Santa was leaving in less than six hours. Every Elf in the North Pole had a to-do list a mile long. She herself had at least twenty things left to go over before Final Launch. No one had time for a Naughty Case right now.

Naughty Cases occurred all year long, and they always handled each one with professional skill. Even through the month of December, when the NO team - the Naughty Office team, that is - had to constantly monitor and make final judges on all the year's cases, Fae and her team of crack NO officers managed the pressure just fine, thank you.

But six hours until Final Launch? Most children, even the chronically Naughty ones, were on their best behavior Christmas Eve. It was important. The last chance to get things right. And most did. It did happened every few years or so, that a Naughty Case popped up right at the end. Most of the time it was just a case of  what the NO office termed a "Christmas Fit" - a child so excited by the coming of Christmas that they could not contain themselves anymore, and basically melted down. Bad behavior? Yes. But would this behavior have occurred if it were not Christmas Eve? No. Christmas Fits were forgivable. The child would be placed on a Naughty Watch list, but no permanent damage for this Christmas.

So, if Fred said this time the signs looked bad, the NO office might have to present a last-minute Naughty case to Santa. And no one wanted to do that on Christmas Eve.

"All right," Fae sighed. "What do we have?"

"Let's see...." Fred murmured, looking over the monitor one more time. "3 years old. Male. Location - Texas. Name - Nolan. Told Mom "no" when she asked him to pick up his toys, screamed when she put him in time out, would not say sorry, only wanted sugar cookies for lunch...."

"That sounds like a classic Christmas Fit to me," Fae said, relief washing over her. This would be over before it even began!

"Wait a moment, Boss, I am not done yet."

Fae's stomach dropped. She could see Sid close his eyes, placing a hand on his head to massage away a rapidly-developing headache.

"Then it was time for Mom to give him a quick haircut before all the festivities begin. He didn't like that at all. He threw a huge fit, screaming, shrieking, throwing toys, kicking the walls, and finally hitting the cat."

"What!" exclaimed Sid. "Trying to give a haircut on Christmas Eve? Does Mom want the kid to be on the Naughty List?"

"Maybe it was the only time she could do it," Fae said with frustration, "Maybe his hair grew overnight? I don't know and I don't care - we have got to figure this out, and Mom is not going to be the scapegoat for the kid's bad behavior. Got it, Sid?"

Sid nodded, his mouth clamped tight.

"Listen," Fae said gently, "No one wants a Naughty Case now, not you, not me, not Mom, and not this kid. But we gotta do our job. At 3, he might knows the rules. Do we have a reading on that, Fred?"

Fred type frantically for a moment before the information popped onto the screen.

"Yup," Fred said in a low voice. "He is a Level 4."

Level 1 was for babies, who were always good. Level 2 was for toddlers, who were just beginning to understand Naughty behavior, but who were not eligible for the Naughty List, being too young to really know  how to stop bad behavior. Level 3 was for slightly older children, who knew what being "good" and being "naughty" meant, but did not get the whole Santa-thing. They most often never made the Naughty List.

But Level 4 was for children who not only understood Naughty and Nice, but who could choose to behave either way, and who got that Being Naughty could mean No Santa. Level 5 was for teenagers and pre-teens, whose attitudes made them almost always at least on the Watch List.
So, although the kid was only 3, he was level 4, which meant he was smart. He Knew Better. Which meant...

"Willfull Disobedience," Fae announced, sadness in her voice.

The three NO Elves sat in silence for a little while, feeling sad for the kid who was in danger on losing everything, just hours from Christmas.
But Fae had an inkling of an idea. It just might work....

"Listen, guys," she said, "This one is really close. He is Level 4, he is committing Willfull disobedience, but if we can just get a little...something...we might be able to get it bumped to Christmas Fit, and then...."

"No Harm Done," finished Sid, hope coming into his eyes.

"Do you have any ideas, Boss," Fred asked.

""Fred, see if there are any packages on the way."

"Right-o....Checking.....Nope. Not one."

"Right," Fae said, "Get a message to the Emergency Elves in Texas. Tell a them we have a 12-24. We need an emergency drop at Nolan's house ASAP."

Sid put on his earpiece and quickly dialed the number to the Emergency Elves of Texas. Fae heard him give the code, the address, and a few other bits of info.

"They are on the way," Sid told Fae.

"Great. Let me know when they get there," Fae said.

It was a tense five minutes in the office. Finally, Fred announced,

"The Emergency Elves have made a package drop. Mom has retrieved the package."

"Fred, can you patch us in? Can we watch?"

Moments later, the Naughty Monitor brought Nolan into view. Fae could see the grumpy look on his face. He was laying on the floor, kicking nothing, repeating "No" over and over and over. This might not be easy.

"What's this," Nolan's mom said, just closing the door. She held a medium-size box in her hands.

"Who is it from," asked Nolan's Dad, coming over the examine the box.

"It doesn't say," replied Mom. "We are not expecting anything else. We already got all the packages from the family. So, I don't know...Look! It is actually addressed to Nolan!"

Nolan stopped kicking, and switched to just whispering "no" repeatedly.

"Should we open it?" asked Dad.

"I don't know," Mom answered. "Nolan has been so Naughty today, he may not deserve a package."

Back at the North Pole, all three Naughty Office Elves were chanting, "C'mon, Mom!"

"Maybe we can see what it is," Mom decided.

Dad helped her open the box. A rectangular present wrapped with red reindeer wrapping paper came out of the box.
Nolan stopped kicking and whispering. He eyed the package with interest.

"For me?" he asked.

"Well," said Dad. "It is for you - your name is on it. But there is a note on it that says, "Only for Nice Boys, not Naughty Boys."

Nolan lay still for a moment. Fae held her breath.

Then Nolan sat up.

"Only for nice boys?"

"That is what it says," Mom answered.

"I want to open it."

"Have you been nice," Dad asked.

"No," Nolan answered.

"Then, no, you cannot open it..."

Nolan opened his mouth to scream again.

"YET," Dad finished.

Nolan paused mid-breath to consider this.

"That means you need to do some nice things, first," Mom jumped in.

There was silence for a moment while Nolan considered the proposition.

"C'mon, kid," Fae whispered, "you can do it!"
Fred chewed his nails while Sid began to rock back and forth.

"Okay," Nolan said slowly.

The NO elves let their breath out.

"Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!" exclaimed Fred, while Sid cheered and did a fist-pump.

"Hang in there, boys. We are not home free yet," Fae cautioned.

Back in Texas, Nolan agreed to eat a sandwich and an apple before he had a cookie. Then, he finally picked up all his toys and put them back in his toy bins. Lastly, he gave Mom and Dad a hug.

"Now?" Nolan asked.

"Now," Mom and Dad said.

Nolan tore the red wrapping paper off the present. Inside was really cool toy airplane, and one figure of a pilot to put into the plane. Nolan's whole face lit up.

"Wow," he breathed, smiling.

"Do you see a note anywhere," asked Mom.

"Nope," Dad answered. " I have no idea who this is from."

"Well, who ever it is, they may have just saved our Christmas."

Fae, Sid, and Fred finally allowed themselves to cheer, giving each other high-fives and handshakes.

"I think we can mark this a Christmas Fit," Fae announced. "A strategic present has changed Willfull Disobedience into Cooperation."

"Do we have to tell Santa?" Sid asked.

"I don't think so. We will continue to monitor. Any more signs of Willfull Disobedience, and we may have to reconsider. But for now, I think we are safe."

Fae leaned back in her chair, tension draining out of her back and shoulders.

Looks like Nolan's Christmas - and hers - would be a Merry Christmas, after all.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's A Wonderful Life (Mine!)

We are days before Christmas (3!!!), but I already feel like it has begun!

On Saturday, I told ArtGuy that my life is starting to feel like "It's A Wonderful Life". Not  the losing-the-mortgage-part or the standing-on-a-bridge-wondering-why-I-was-born part, but the part right at the very, very end. The happy part. The part where Mary and George Bailey stand in their living room, and people who love them surround them, bringing help, surrounding them with community so they know they are not alone.

It is no secret to our friends and most of our family that things are really tough for our family, financially speaking. I mean, ArtGuy and I have lived 15 years of financial stress, so financial difficulty is not a new thing, really. ArtGuy worked a series of under-paid jobs early in our marriage that brought us to a state of debt. I used to tell him that if I knew we were going to rack up that amount of debt, I would rather have done it buying big items, like tvs, computers, and fancy stuff. We would still have the debt, but at least we would also have some cool stuff to show for it.
Not that we would have. I remember thinking before our marriage that at while we would never be wealthy, we would also never be in debt, since neither ArtGuy nor I are big spenders.


No, instead the debt mounted up over car repairs, home repairs, and banal things like that. Ugh.
Now ArtGuy has a great job, but awful health insurance. So bad, the boys and I cannot have it - it would cost more than our mortgage. So, we are on a high-deductible, private plan.
Our deductible is so high every time I have to take someone to the doctor (or the times I have gone to the hospital) compassionate health workers sit down in front of me, look me gently in the eye, and softly say, "Are you aware of how high your deductible is?"

You know it is bad when it shocks anyone in the health care industry....

Anyway, as high as it is, we have met the past four years.

Now this year, everything is breaking. Our lights do not work in our upstairs schoolroom and hallway, my dryer has to run 3x to dry a load, our bed (a Sleep Number-type) does not hold air, and our van...our poor, poor minivan, is held together with a prayer. And we have had a couple of weeks over the past few months where I get that dreaded phone call from ArtGuy, saying, "How are we fixed for groceries?". And I know that means we are out of money, and it is time to stretch the pantry again. Rough when you have four ravenous boys.

We planned on replacing the van after Christmas. We do not have much money, so it is likely to be a similar, older vehicle, but hopefully in better shape than the one we have. In order to do this, since we have no money, we are using ArtGuy's Christmas bonus.

We began preparing the kids a few months ago that this Christmas would be small. That everything we have is going to get us a safer vehicle for the family. And good boys that they are, they accepted this with no complaints.

God really blessed me back in August, when I hit a clearance sell at a bookstore. I was able to purchase some items for the boys' Christmas then, knowing money would be tight at Christmas. And again in October, a trip to my grocery store (which has a wonderful toy section) led me to an incredible mark-down on some items for The Monkey.  So, while our Christmas will be smaller than normal, we are able to have a nice one!

I work a little every month, as a cantor singing for parish events. It is a great job. I am blessed to ever be allowed to do it. I do not make a lot, but it has always helped us out, especially for Christmas. This year I was able to get some extra work in the fall,  mainly to pay for various things (the 2nd half of The Young Adult's math class, a winter coat for Cookie Boy, etc).

Then in early December, we found out ArtGuy's car needed a lot of work to pass inspection. My whole bigger paycheck, plus some. It was devastating. I mean, on one hand, I was so thankful we had the money at all, since we cannot go into debt any deeper. On the other hand, we are now officially broke.

I cried a little. I shouted out on facebook some, just as a way to blow off some of the stress. But I have been striving to remain cheerful and trusting.

I have been trying to plan for this moment. I knew it was coming. Our financial situation has been very tenuous for a couple of years, and the van has giving us signs for a year or more that it was close to exhaustion. I have tried to find extra work. We even looked into me going back to work full-time. I even went after a job and made it to the final stages of hiring, when I withdrew.  My salary would have been about enough to cover day-care for The Monkey. Not worth it, yet. In a couple of years, maybe.
Then, I decided to concentrate on my writing. Surely THAT'S how God was going to help us. I worked as much as homeschooling 4 boys would allow, and finished one book I really believed in. But as the months went by, I received the same answer - no. Some did not publish that kind of book (for the religious ed classroom), and others loved it, but due to budget cuts and all, my book just would not make enough money for the publishing houses to publish it.

Well, then, what was the purpose in all this? If God really, truly cared, then He must know the place our family was coming to. And if He knew, and if He cared, and if He realized how hard we were trying, why was He not helping us to find a solution?

It started a little over a week ago. The first gift came, out of the blue. It knocked our socks off. And we felt blessed. But it wasn't the last gift. A few days later, I found out someone paid for The Young Adult's highland dance class for the month (we had to drop it this month. No $ = no extra activities). I cried.

But that has not been the end.

Some of our gifts have been anonymous, and some have had our friends' names on them. Some have been material. Some have been gifts of prayer, which believe me, have held me up in a very real way. All ways, ArtGuy and I feel so blessed, so surrounded by love and care. So cared for.

I cannot begin to express the fullness of my heart. ArtGuy and I still have to figure a way out of our mess, and try to keep this from happening again. The material help we are receiving will be of real, physical benefit to us. It will help pay bills, make repairs, and move forward.

But the bigger benefit of all this is not physical. It cannot be seen, but it most certainly is felt. It is the real love we feel from those around us. Why this outpouring of care and love from our friends and family now? I do not know. I do see the hand of God in it, the reminder that we are not alone, that we are not forgotten.

It is really beyond my ability to put into words what is in my heart. All I can do is give thanks constantly, and to live my life in grateful appreciation for the love we have been shown.

"I don't know what to do!" cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath..."I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world!..." (A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December Catch-Up

Advent is more than half-way gone. Christmas is less than two weeks away!

Life has been so busy these past few months, I just have not been able to write. I have tried to chalk it up to God wanting me to focus elsewhere for the moment. I miss writing, and hope to be called to it again soon.

     We decorated our tree last night. Actually, we put the tree up the 1st Sunday of Advent (in a brief moment that no one in the family was barfing. Yeah, Thanksgiving was not fun this year), and decorated it with our purple Advent decorations. It has been so lovely, and a wonderful reminder that Christmas is coming, but not quite here yet.
      Now we have passed the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, so now we decorate! The boys are all getting so big now. The Monkey was very excited to help put ornaments on the tree. Mostly on the bottom right part of the tree. It is kind of tipping to one side. The cat loves having those "oh-ma-nents" in reach.

   Most of the past two months have been filled, outside of normal life and schooling, with my First Lego League team. My team, Storm System, is a 2nd year team this year. They have worked pretty hard all season, but got a little complacent at one point. When they slowed down and did not seem to want to work anymore, my fellow coaches and I sighed and said to one another, "Well, at least our season will end soon." But darn it all! Those boys kicked into gear, and went into Qualifiers this last weekend ready for Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition! They came in 6th out of 29 teams over all in the robot game, and scored well in the project presentation and teamwork. They won a Judges Award and advanced to the Championships!

Storm System is in the tie-dye black. Getting ready to battle!

Getting our trophy!

In the above picture, it looks like Romeo is shooting the finger, and has been blurred out for censorship. But no. Pretty sure he was just waving a hand around. It just looks bad.
So, our season will not end until January 21, when we go to the regional Championships. Now we are taking a little break, but will start work back up soon.

In our homeschooling life, we finish up for Christmas break tomorrow. More or less. There may have to be a test or two next week, but otherwise.....freedom!

We are big Cars fans in our house. I still have never seen Cars 2 all the way through (wiggly preschooler), but we love the toys. We were SO waiting for this set! I just picked it up at Walmart today! Love it!

Catch you all soon!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wanted: Joy

Today, I am seeking joy. Now, I know joy is more of an attitude than a "thing", but nevertheless, it has been sorely missing in my life as of late.

It kind of hit me yesterday, after I spent three hours trying to wrangle six boys to just work on their robot, for heaven's sake, and stop playing with my three year old's toys, and just get it done because I am giving up major chunks of my life for this and you are stomping on the ground of my self-worth!

Whoops - did I say that out loud?

It isn't just robots. Or boys, Or housework.

Okay, it is mostly boys.

I am being crushed under the weight of meetings, practices, rehearsals, competitions, school, and housework. Not so much the housework, as the lack of housework. You know it is bad when your kids write "Clean Me" into the dust of the schoolroom desk.

I digress.

During the Lego meeting yesterday, my head began to throb to the cadence of "What Will We Do with a Drunken Sailor" (my Lego team was singing this song very enthusiastically - I don't really know why. I was afraid to ask.).

I growled out a couple of useless threats to get them to work, and bared my fangs a little ("I will bite off the fingers of the next person to pick up and play with that darn button sound Thomas the Tank Engine book!").

That was when I realized the terrible truth - I not only have lost my sense of humor, but the ability to feel joy.

Joy is not "fun". It isn't entertainment. It is the ability to enjoy life as it happens.

I don't have it anymore. And it is now my goal to find it again. I am going to reclaim joy.

I think a vat of ice cream, some good chocolate, and a week alone with a pile of good books could go a long way towards reestablishing it, but I am not holding out for the impossible here!

Okay, so I just had to remind my oldest son, my man-child, that he was speaking in a voice to raise the dead, which lead to the inevitable pained "why are you always persecuting me" drama on my son's part. Not boding well for joy, here.

I know it is out there. I am gonna find it!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Death to the 'Stache

Today was a momentous day in our household. Our oldest son, The Young Adult, had his first shave.

Yes, he is still 13. Yes, he really....really....really needed to do it.

"How long did it take you to grow that mustache?" "Couple of days."

It is just wrong to put "My First Shave" into your son's baby book.

Reminds me of one of my favorite shows, King of the Hill. In the episode "Dale to the Chief", Dale says to his prematurely mature son Joseph":
JOSEPH: I had the scariest dream!
DALE: Oh. How about I read you a story? Just like I used to before you grew a mustache and became so frightening. 

Just looking at my towering, 13-year-old mustachioed man-child has been weird the past few weeks. Where did my baby go? And why do I seem to produce hairy children? The Young Adult gives every indication that he will be a Wookie when he matures. His armpit hair is more luxurious than what most grown men can produce. The Monkey calls it "fluffies" and is endlessly fascinated it with it when The Young Adult wears a sleeveless shirt.

I remind his younger brothers, who are yucking it up,  that they, too, may be shaving at 13. Don't. Mock.

ArtGuy took The Young Adult into our bathroom and led him through all the minutiae of what it take to shave properly and not slice your face in half. Romeo and I were the gawking audience.

It is done. He is clean-shaven. For now.

All clear!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ready, Set....Holidays!

Yesterday was the start of the holiday season. Wow! Already?

Yesterday was Halloween. We did not give out candy this year (due to tight finances), but after the boys got home from trick-or-treating, ArtGuy suggested we just flip the porch lights on and open for business, because they brought back a store's-worth of candy! I can't decide if my headache today is a sinus headache or sugar OD!

Those buckets were groaning with candy by evening's end!

Today, Nov. 1, is the feast of All Saints, one of my favorite feasts of the year. I have loved reading about the saints since I was young. A friend's post on facebook yesterday reminded me of the All Saints party our charismatic community threw every year. It really took the place of Halloween. The whole gym where we met was turned into a fair of games, cakewalk, and entertainment. And saints, of course. Even many of the adults dressed up. Each year I would hit my saint books, trying to find the picture of the most beautiful saint I could find (invariably St. Cecilia was pictures with shampoo commercial-ready blonde hair, flawless skin, and sweet blue eyes, and usually rocked a pale pink robe. Guess who I was most years?).  While we did not celebrate Halloween when I was young, we still got to dress up, and we left the All Saints party with enough candy to sink a boat, so it was no hardship to forgo Halloween.


The only difficult part I can remember is at school. The teacher would always go around the room and ask everyone what they were going to be for Halloween that year. I usually made something up, like an angel or cat. I mean, I wasn't exactly embarrassed of the All Saints tradition, but I just didn't want to explain to my classmates who St. Clare was, and why that made a better Halloween costume than Madonna (the singer, not the Virgin).

Now that I think of it, that was a wasted opportunity to evangelize, but what can I say? I was a shy child!

Tomorrow is All Souls Day, but it is also Cookie Boy's 12th birthday. One disadvantage of having a birthday 2 days after Halloween is that you usually are not wild to have cake or anything!

A few weeks will see us at Thanksgiving, then Advent, then Christmas.

Oh yeah - it is ALL starting up!

Eat your Wheeties!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fashion Rut

The word "fashion" does not really exist in my vocabulary.  Unless jeans and really big shirts count as "fashion".

After a summer of unbelievable heat here in Texas, the weather has finally changed. Which means, we can finally wear jeans, and some days, long-sleeved shirts!

Which means, I need to go shopping.

Yesterday, between traveling from one parish to another, I stopped by Target. I thought, "Great! I can pick up a couple of plain, long-sleeved shirts. That is all I need."
Due to time constraints, I did not try on the shirts. I mean, they are regular long-sleeved shirts. How hard can it be? I picked two styles - a blue scoop neck tee, and a forest green "classic" tee. I also went the "XL" route. What can I say? I am a curvy girl who likes her clothes to be a little roomy!

Later, when I had a few minutes at home, I eagerly tried on my shirts. The blue one was a little snug, but workable. I like the long length, which covers my tooshie. Then, I tried on the "classic" green tee.


I do NOT like the current "in" fashion of snug shirts. No one, and I mean no one, needs to see me in a tight t-shirt. And a tight, long-sleeve t-shirt that is also long length-wise shows off all my "curves" - from shoulders to hips. I guarantee you there is nothing fashionable about the way it makes me look.

I went to the Target website today, and read through the description of the shirt. It is a "contemporary fit", which means, will show everything you have. How about "real-life" fit? Or, let's just call it a "big girl" fit? That is what I want!

It is depressing to feel so....unlovely. 

The blue shirts can stay. The green shirt is going back. And I am going shopping, again!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Just a Quick Shout-Out

I am very aware that my recent posts and all my facebook status (statii?) have been negative lately. Not sure what to tell you, except writing is soooo much cheaper than therapy.

It is 11am on a Wednesday morning. The older three boys are actually all working on various school assignments at the moment. No drama - for now. The Monkey, however, is wailing and gnashing his teeth in his room. I told him he could not play video games. Mean mommy.

Poor kid is not feeling well. He threw up at 10pm last night. I am grateful it did not happen in the car yesterday evening. But still, why do they always throw up after daddy goes to bed? And since ArtGuy is not exactly a "light sleeper", there went my only quiet time of the day!

But he only barfed once.

So, it could have been worse.

The combined pressure of schooling, keeping house, trying to provide meals to everyone (dinner is such a burden at the moment. I hate cooking, and the last thing I want to do every evening is spend an hour making a mess preparing something it will take my men 10 minutes to plow through. I do not have dinner for tonight. God help me!), drive everyone to where they need to be, take care of my committees, teams, and commitments - well, I am pooped!
I have friends who have large families = 6,7,8,9 children. I cannot imagine how they do it.

Well, time to let the Monkey out of his room. Maybe he will let me go in and nap?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day in My House

Today is Labor Day. Have a great holiday.

For me, Labor Day is just another day of cleaning and trying to drive it through the head's of the people I live with that
  • I am not their maid
  • I am not their servant
  • that they do not clean up after themselves just to keep me from getting angry (and they usually only clean after I AM angry), but because they need to be responsible for their own messes. That way, when I DO clean up after them, it is a gift from me to them, not the last-ditch effort to hold to my sanity.

It is one of those days. ArtGuy is in Virginia for a family wedding, which is great for him, but sucks for me.

It has been years since I had a real vacation. I am really feeling the strain of that.

Searching for joy and meaning. Somehow, I have lost my hold on these things.

I know - everyone tells me this is a phase, and some day the kids will be grown and gone, and I will look back on these days with nostalgia. I understand what they mean, and appreciate the encouragement. But my father and sister both died at 42. They didn't get to "those days". Not that I am predicting an early demise for myself, but I just know that long life is not a guarantee. Some times it scares me that this may be all I have. I want to know joy again.
But of course, this attitude just makes me feel like a terrible mother. What kind of mother needs regular breaks from their children? Not that I get breaks, but it sure feels like that would be what I need. Breaks from my kids, and time with my husband. I know, I know - to quote one of my favorite movies, The Castle - "She's dreamin'"!

Well, maybe this rant is enough to just get me through the day. Cheaper than therapy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Chore Master

Romeo at work

My house is - generally - a mess.

Now, my mother is probably one of the few readers of this blog, and I would hate to make her choke to death. So, Mom, if you are reading, please do not eat or drink for a moment. Let me just make a statement.

I hate a mess.

Go ahead and laugh, Mom. You just really cannot say things like that to people who knew you when  you were 13.

It is true. I hate messes, but I live in a perpetual one. And I mean "MESS". I can handle the daily mess, usually. But living with five males.....well....mess just comes with the territory.

I cannot keep up with the cleaning, and it spirals downwards periodically in the school year, with brief periods of "rescue cleaning" in between closing my eyes to dust, dirt, and ick!
I have tried Fly Lady, The Queen of Clean, Better Homes and Garden's "Clean Your House in a Year", and many more. I have not been able to make them work (admitting that it is due to ME,  not to these fine programs!).

So, last week I instituted the Family Cleaning Plan.

Every day the boys have to clean their rooms in the morning, take out trash and recycling, clean the cat's litter box, and feed pets. They are used to that. Now we also have daily "special" chores. It looks like this:

Monday - dusting
Tuesday - vacuuming
Wednesday - clean bathrooms (They were already doing this one)
Thursday - misc. chores
Friday - Mom vacuums again, while boys empty trash throughout house

The aim is not "Sparkly House", but "livable, controlled chaos". I mean, the whole plan sounds great, but 13, 11, and 9 year old boys are responsible for executing the chores, so I am not exactly expecting perfection.

It was a little scary today. I cannot remember exactly, so thankfully I do not have to lie in order to avoid telling you how long it has been since my living room was dusted. I did have to convince the boys that the dust balls did NOT have teeth, and would not hurt them....I think.

Almost anything will be an improvement!

The Young Adult, flexing his dusting muscles.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Changes to the Liturgy: What and Why

We are on a countdown in the Catholic Church. On Sunday, November 27, 2011 the season of Advent will begin, and along with it will come changes to the Catholic liturgy. We have been familiar with this form of the liturgy for over 30 years - a lifetime for many of us. So, what is this all about?

First - what? The changes actually already happened, in Latin. The liturgy is revised every so often in order to update the list of saints and feasts days. In 2000, the Jubilee year, Bl. John Paul II announced a new revision of the liturgy was in order. The Roman Missal (3rd edition) was finished in 2002. Once the Roman Missal, which is in Latin, is released it becomes necessary to translate into the various languages for use around the world.

Now, anyone who has taken a foreign language can tell you that translating is a tricky business. A word can have more than one meaning, or there can be shades of variation in a word.
For example, in English, the word - "happy". Happy can be happy, but it might also be "joyful", "glad", "ecstatic", "giddy", and so on. Each word has a slightly different flavor to it. If one is translating into English, you would have to pick the word that best describes what kind of "happy" you mean. One translator may choose "happy" while another choose "ecstatic". So you might have:
  • The new puppy made the children happy. 
  • The new puppy made the children ecstatic.
Both sentences mean the puppy was a good thing and the children felt happy, but one implies a greater degree of feeling than another.  Each sentence has a slightly different connotation. 

Back to the liturgy ....

As the theologians, translators, and bishops began to look at putting the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal into English, it became more and more clear that the liturgy we are all so familiar with had been rather loosely translated at some sections. This called for a deeper look at each word in the liturgy, and a decision to return to a more faithful, if formal, translation.

This translation will debut the first Sunday of Advent, 2011. However, many parishes are now putting things in motion. Choirs are learning new or revised mass settings, DRE's are preparing to educate the congregation, and the pastor is getting ready to ruffle some feathers! Uh, I mean, the pastor in getting ready to present it all to a congregation.

That was the what, now for the WHY.

Why are we doing this? I have already been hearing grumbles from the pews. In reality, it is a great question. Why?
Does it REALLY matter if we say "And also with you" versus "And with your spirit"? Is God going to, shall we say, get His panties in a bunch if we translate "Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabbaoth" as "Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of power and might" (instead of, as the new translation will read, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts").
Will God blessings rain down upon us more now that we will say "I believe" at the beginning of the Nicene Creed, instead of "We believe".

Yes, the changes are, overall, minor. Minor in the sense that some parts of some prayers and responses are being changed. It isn't like we decided to get rid of the Liturgy of the Word or anything of that magnitude.

And no one really likes change. So.....why?

  1. Accuracy has meaning. My name is Christine. I grew with a lot of people calling me "Christina". It really irritated me. Why? Both names are basically the same. They have the same meaning, and they are forms of the same name. I knew people were talking to me, even when called me "Christina". So, why did it matter to me? Because my name has meaning for me. I am Christine, not Christina. When people I had known for a decent period of time could not call me by my proper name, I felt they did not really care who I was. Christina was close enough. But that was not my name. Accuracy has meaning.
  2. There are inherent meanings and identities in words. When something is named, that name becomes part of that thing's identity. Look at the creation story in Genesis. One of the important jobs Adam had was the naming of the animals. To give something a name is to give it a meaning. This goes along with accuracy.
  3. There is a long history to suggest God does care about the minutiae of worship and rite. The Old Testament is full of it. God himself gave Moses the 10 Commandments. A look at the first five books of the Old Testament will quickly show you exactly how closely God involved Himself in proscribing the worship of His people.
  4. While Jesus came and made it clear that we are not to trip ourselves up over form and rite, he did not abolish form and rite.
The way some people will react to the liturgical revisions will be with skepticism and sarcasm. But that is because all some people hear when they are at church is this:

.But that is not what we are meant to hear. If that is what we hear, we are not really listening.

If we really listen and participate, we are taking part in a mighty prayer that is about worship. Worship. About the kneeling down - no, the falling on our face before the God of heaven and earth. The God who made everything. The God who chooses to come to us at each and every mass - present - actually present in our midst. Before that God, our lips do not, should not move in meaningless mumbling, but in meaningful, thoughtful adoration.

The way we worship has meaning. And that is the beauty of the Catholic liturgy to me. Really, it is why I embrace these changes to the liturgy with a joyful heart. They confirm what I have always believed about my faith - the beauty of meaning. Each word of the liturgy is so precious, so important, that it actually DOES matter if we say "We believe" when we should say "I believe".
Does God get mad if we say "We believe". No. Revising the liturgy is not about anything so superstitious as God being angry or pleased because of one word. Rather, our word choices, our union in translation, are another way we worship God. When we go to Mass, we need to know what every word uttered there is like a pearl from our lips - precious, important, and beautiful. "Let my prayer be incense before you." (Psalm 141:2).

The changes to the liturgy are a'comin. Are you ready?


A useful, handy side-by-side comparison of what will change:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Low Day

The word of the day: inadequate.

The first 15 minutes of today started just fine, albeit sleepy. But since then, it has been a definite downhill avalanche.

Nothing major, like when my sister was dying. That kind of stuff can tear your soul apart. Yet it also requires a kind of heroic strength just to make it through the day, which can carry you through. At least for a time.

Nope. Today is about the small stuff. The little stuff. The stuff of drudgery and dullness. It won't tear your soul apart. It will just drive you mad, like water dripping from a faucet. Drip - drip - drip...

Apparently, I am expected to keep stuff around until people feel like putting things away. Or else, I am to ask about every little thing before I take care of it. In this instance, it was something I did not know was supposed to be kept. Or something that I was told not to throw away five days ago (but I cannot remember ever hearing it, which means I totally forgot), which now makes me totally and solely responsible for either putting it safely away, like the cherished treasure that it is, or else living with it taking up space in my work area until the owner sees fit to care for it.  It was sitting on the middle of the island in the kitchen for five days, but I guess that was not enough. Silly me, I threw it away.  And got caught. And lectured with a look of incredulity, although in a kind voice. It made me feel quite inadequate.

Drip - drip - drip....

I also finally threw down the laundry from the middle two boys' room. Only the top layer has been skimmed off each week. For starters, I never finish the laundry because I have the world's worst dryer, and it takes me 3x as long to do laundry as everyone else in the modernized world. Anyway, the middle boys have not taken care of their clothes, and I finally decided to do it. The clothes in the bottom came out in one big clump. Euw.

Drip - drip - drip....

The Young Adult did not do YET another assignment. He "forgot". I love how they forget to do homework when I am not home in the evening. If I am not there, it will not get done. Unless I make sure it gets done, or make sure someone else makes it get done.

Drip - drip - drip....

Add to this the looks of disbelief  that a school day means school work. And when the work "runs out", Mom expects a student to review or, God forbid, study.

Drip - drip - drip....
And Romeo forgot what the shape of Africa looks like.

Drip - drip - drip....Drip - drip - drip....Drip - drip - drip....

Yeah....It is the little things like Incontinence of Continents that does a person in.

Inadequacy can be tied to the endless round of work that being a homeschooling stay-at-home Mom entails. It never ends, it repeats endlessly, and it can be quite lonely being so outnumbered.
Don't get me wrong. I DO love what I do. I do try to appreciate the blessings in my life.
But some days are just trying.
I do not get paid for what I do. I do not have a measure by which to measure myself, unless I look at other homeschooling families I know, which just makes me feel even more terrible. (They have six kids, all of them Rhodes scholars. That other family's house is always clean, her husband takes her out on a date every freaking week, they work family mission trips together, AND the kids are all Rhodes scholars. And this family...well, they have five kids, the mother is expecting, the house is always clean, the children are all athletes or musicians, they pray the rosary every night, the husband takes his wife for get-away-weekends, she cooks gourmet meals, AND the children are all Rhodes scholars.) No - measuring myself against the yardsticks of other homeschooling families does not help.

Yes, I do it all for my children, and they are my measuring sticks. They are great boys, and a credit to their parents. However, daily exposure to said-amazing kids can be less than uplifting for the one responsible for their education, their manners, their religious upbringing, their character development, their ability to do chores, their understanding of work, and their ability to one day grow into men who will truly consider their wife a partner in life and will not make her run away screaming that she can't live with a husband who cannot handle a flipping load of laundry.


Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Hello? Who's There?"

Last week, ArtGuy and the Monkey were playing cars on the floor in the living room. I sat next to them, listening to their cute conversation.

Suddenly, my cell phone rang! That may not sound too exciting, but you have to understand
a) that not many people call my cell phone,
b) ArtGuy and I only have pay-as-you-go phones. We are bare-bones when it comes to cells.

I jumped up to grab my phone, which was ringing out with the theme from "Star Wars" (trust me - this is a great ringtone! Very exciting!) from the piano, and checked caller ID. Who could it be? Lisa? Maggie? Brandi?

None of the above. It husband?

But my husband was sitting right in front of me...

And suddenly, I knew - I had just been butt-dialed.

My husband, ArGuy, is a FBD - Frequent Butt Dialer.

Not familiar with the problem?

Watch this:

This could be ArtGuy and me. It happens with regularity.

For example, two weeks ago, my phone rang. I saw from caller ID that it was ArtGuy calling on his cell phone, during lunch. I figured, great! He must be out shopping and found something cool to tell me about, or, maybe he just misses me. So I answered, in my cutest "wifey-at-home" voice, only to hear background noise.

I had just been butt-dialed...again.

So you can imagine my excitement last Friday when ArtGuy announced he was ready for a new cell phone! Yea - no more butt dialing!

Here is the old phone:

Here is the new phone:

Notice the difference? Me, neither!

I guess I better get used to intercepting some calls from "down under"!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer Assessment

Even though we officially started school last week, I am still mulling over the end of summer. Probably because it is still a bazillion degrees outside.
My feelings exactly!

My goals for the summer, according to a post I made in May, were:
  • clean the house ("clean" is a relative term, but the end of the school year usually means a slide into messiness. So, time to regroup and return the house into some semblance of order). I actually did some of this! The school closet got a re-haul, and other things got a straightening up. Not a stellar job, but an adequate job!
  • swim - lots and lots! I started out strong, but then it got so hot and I got so lazy, I kind of stopped. However, I promised myself and the kids we would get a lot more swimming in this week!
  • write...something....  Nope. Did not happen. Besides the blog, anyway.
  • potty train the Monkey Yeeeeessssss!!!!
  • get the Monkey to sleep in his own room. Double YEEEESSSSSS!!!!
  • just have fun! ??????
Making the "big boy" bed!

Overall, it all turned out pretty good. The heat is killing us, but hopefully it will all be over in a month or so!

So far, I do not have goals for the Fall. Yet ....

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    7 Quick Takes vol 3

    Okay - it is FRIDAY!!!!! Yea! Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary for hosting this. It really gives me a goal each week!

    So, here are seven things tumbling around my head....

    1. This was our first week back at school! We survived. What did I learn? One should never start school and one's "visit from Mother Nature" at the same time.


    2. The Monkey.

    He is a handful.

    Today is a good example. He is exhibiting a high level of crabbiness today. This is the note ArtGuy left me this morning. It has made me laugh all day.

    3. August is a great month for saints. I mean, every month has great saints, but August just seems to be filled with many of my favorites. Every day, I feel like I am saying, "Oooo, ooooo, look who is the saint today!"
    Aug 4 - St John Vianney
    Aug 8 - St Dominic
    Aug 9 - St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross/Edith Stein
    Aug 11 - St. Clare
    Aug 14 - St Maximilian Kolbe
    Aug 20 - St. Bernard of Clairvaux
    Aug 27 - St. Monica
    Aug 28 - St. Augustine
    and many more! Not to mention that Aug 15 is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary!

    August is an awesome month for saints!

    4. August is my birthday month! Whooo hooooo! Par-tee, par-tee!
    I love birthdays. The presents, the cake, the..specialness.
    I get so excited! I am NOT happy about being another year older, but I do love feeling special!

    5. And my birthday brought an extra "gift" this month. I had to go to our local DMV to renew my driver's person! Lucky me!
    The good news - all the people that worked there were really all very lovely.
    The bad news - it took over two hours, one hour of which was spent in a line outside. With the Monkey.

    It was also my first driver's license picture as a fatty. I hate my round face. Blech!

    I needed a very large Dr. Pepper when it was all over.

    6. This week, along with the beginning of school, we are trying something new. The boys and I are reading through the readings for the upcoming Sunday every day. The first day we just read them out loud. The second day, we reread them, and began discussing what they might have meant historically. The third day, we listened to the psalm. The fourth day I was stuck in line in the DMV. Today we ended by discussing what the readings could mean to us today.
    It helps us to "break open the word", and helps the boys gain skills in looking things up in their Bibles.

    7. I love reality shows about cooking, interior design, and fashion. They are my guilty pleasure. I think it is because I do none of those things well - cook, decorate, or understand what fashion is or how to wear it!

    And now it is time to go put the Monkey down for a nap. Hallelujah!

    And Happy Friday!

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Beginning School

    Today was our first day back at school! Year NINE for our homeschooling venture. Sheesh! Hard to believe!

    The Monkey was so excited to begin. He rushed me all morning so we can "go do our special school"! He was thrilled with his new school shelf and items. However, as the day wore on, he got this look like, "This is what school is? I think I am going to go play trains...."

    Ah well! He will have good days and rough days, like his brothers. He would do so well in a preschool program, but there is just no money for that.

    I have been working hard to get ready for him. It has been a while since I have had preschool at home!

    Our calendar. The Monkey was convinced that the days of the week actually read "Some boys give big farts on Sunday." Whatever!

    Our button key chain to mark the date

    Thanks to Counting Coconuts for all the ideas. It is a site that both inspires me (with its wonderful ideas) and depresses me (because I will never in all my life be that creative). Anyway, I have gotten a lot of ideas from there. Thanks also to my friends Leah and Christy for turning me on to the site!".
    The pockets on the calendar are for our "Number of the Day" and "Letter of the Day .That is all we are doing for now. We can add more later, as the Monkey warms up to school.

    My season wheel. We will place a clothespin on the correct season.

    The I Spy jar

    The I Spy Jar

    I have wanted to make an I Spy jar for a long time. I was so glad to finally do it! I used a plastic container (that used to hold jelly beans - mmmmmm!), and filled it with bird seed and little items. I plan on changing the items out from time to time. We have all been looking in it!

    I wanted to make some felt items for a felt board. I combined that with a desire to work on clothing and seasons and weather to make our Felt Man. He is going to be fun to learn with. The Monkey likes to take Felt Man and play with him already.

    Felt Man in his undies, showing his casual clothes

    In casual clothes, showing winter clothes

    In winter clothes, showing beach wear!

    In beach wear, showing rain wear

    The rain wear is my personal favorite

    Beach accessories!
    Ah - fun!

    I placed an old small bookshelf in the hallway by our schoolroom. This shelf is now the Monkey's school shelf. I will change items out. That is about the whole plan at the moment!

    This week we are starting with a puzzle, wooden ABC/Noah's Ark blocks, counting bears and a sorter tray, paper and stickers. I may change the paper items out this week, and add in a nursery rhyme activity in a day or two.

    The other boys slipped right back into school. Really, we are just finishing up what we did not complete last semester. For the most part, it is "old" subjects. Everyone is starting new literature. Romeo gets Roman Myths. Cookie Boy starts on The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, and The Young Adult is devouring Treasure Island!

    Happy new school year!

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    7 Quick Takes - vol 2

    Happy Friday, everyone!

    Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary, for hosting 7 Quick Takes!

    1. This week, in an effort to find something good about this record heat in north Central Texas, we tried dashboard baking some cookies. Some friends yesterday suggested cinnamon rolls. I am SO going to do that. But it is too hot to go to the store right now....

    2.  I am kind of bothered by a current fashion. Okay, let's face it. I am bothered by fashion of any kind. I am not, nor ever have been, a fashionable kind of girl. I admire fashion. I love looking at fashions. I wish I could understand fashion.
    First, I just have no interest. Second, I have the totally wrong kind of body for any kind of fashion, outside of mumus and really, really big t-shirts and shorts.
    And that leads me to the fashion trend that bugs me - short dresses and skirts. Let us first admit that we were in middle school in the eighties when mini-skirts were all the rage. Let us second admit that we did, ourselves, own one or two of said mini-skirts. Let us third proclaim that all pictures featuring this writer in those mini-skirts should be burned, lest the damage anyone's eyesight.
    The fashion - short skirts and dresses are "in".
    See this example from Wet Seal. 
    The problem - very few women have the figure to really pull it off (and this is aside from all modesty issues).
    Girls like me - and there are lots of us out there - those of us with big hips, rounded curves, and speed-skating-worthy thighs, should  NOT, under any circumstance, wear such clothing. Short hemlines do nothing for us, except make us look rounder (and not in a curvy way), stockier, and less feminine.
    In short (hah hah hah) - it just isn't pretty.

    3. Today is/was a First Lego League meeting. I said "is" because I began to write this at 10am this morning. I said "was", because people started coming, and now it is almost 4pm, so the meeting is done and over! Whew! Meeting days are crazy! I love First Lego League. It is an amazing experience for the kids and adults, alike.
    If you don't know about:
    1. First Lego League - check this out
    2. The cool special to air on the ABC network on August 14, check this out!
    3. My own FLL team, Storm System, check this out!

    4. I need a haircut. I want that haircut to make me look fabulous.

    5. How do you pray? Do you have a formal time each day? Do you just fling some "Lord, have mercy's" up to heaven throughout the day? How do you connect and make time?
    Some days I manage the daily readings. Some days I mutter throughout the day, looking like some crazy woman  (but I am praying, honest!). Some days I work it in when I wake up and when I get to bed. Some days it is in action, as I bite my tongue, or patiently play cars with the Monkey...again....

    6. So, when did life get so complicated? I remember college. Everything seemed so clear-cut, then. I had a job (to study), a goal (to graduate), and a mission. I believed there was "something" for me to do, that God had a plan. Even the early years of our marriage and family seemed like a clear path before my feet.
    Prayer was easier then. 
    Flash forward 16 years, and I know I still have a job (be a mom), a goal (to raise kids), but my mission and my "something" still eludes me. I guess it is just in the nature of motherhood, especially while mothering young children, than life gets messy. I often feel like I am a snowglobe, and I keep getting shaken up. The snow swirls like a blizzard, and I cannot see my way. But I am searching.

    7. MmmmmMMMmmm....I said the word "blizzard" in #6, and now I am thinking Dairy Queen. Ice cream. Yuuuummmmm.....

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Dashboard Baking - FINISHED!!!

    Aw yeah! It is THAT hot!

    This week is brutal weather all over the nation. Here in North Texas, it is about 110 this week. Currently, as of 3pm, it is 107 degrees, according to the Weather Channel. But I am pretty sure that is wrong. What is the temperature on the sun? It is about 10 degrees cooler here.
    The hot part of the day goes from 4-6pm here. So, you can imagine...

    Let's make lemonade out of lemons, shall we????

    1:30pm - we arrive home from errands. We pull into our sunny driveway, and roll up all the windows.

    2:30 pm - The interior of the van reads 175 degrees. After just an hour.

    After one hour of pre-heating.... Scary....

     I had the temp gauge with me on errands, and even with the windows open, when we returned to the car, the interior was 150 degrees.

    That is why we do not leave children or animals in vehicles, folks. Check twice!

    2:30-2:45 pm - we prepare our food. I chose to use Nestle's take-and-bake cookies, rather than mix it up myself. Because it is that hot.

    Cookie Boy adding "Chocolate Chip Lovers" Nestle break-apart cookies!

    Looking good!

    The Young Adult adds Nestle "Oatmeal Scotchies". I think those are going to be yummers!

    Might as well rustle up an egg, too!

     2:45 - We head to the van....

    ...and then the genius brothers headed right back in to PUT ON SHOES! Duh!

    2:45-2:55 - we arrange our food. We placed the cookie sheets on paper and pot holders to protect the dashboard. After only 5 minutes in the car, I touched the pan to move it, and burned my finger!
    Um, yeah...looks hot....

    The chocolate immediately began to melt.

    2:55pm - we finish, close and lock the van.
    Cook, baby, cook!

    3:20 - We check on our food, after letting it bake for 20-25 minutes. The interior of the van is almost at 175 again (it went down to 160 while we were placing the food inside).

    The cookies are spreading quite well. Scary!

    The ones in front are more melty than the ones in back.

    While not cooked yet, the yolk has clearly "set".

    3:40 pm - I went outside to turn the pan around. We want those cookies to bake evenly, now!
    You could actually hear the aluminum foil popping.

    4:10 - Went out to check. The one small tree in our teeny-tiny backyard was starting to throw shade onto the driveway.
    Shade=bad; sun=good. At least, when you want to bake cookies!

    So, I pulled the van down the driveway, into the seat, and back into the full heat from the sun.
    I had to use pot holders to touch the steering wheel.

    Park and bake!

    The egg yolk is very set.

    The cookies seem to be almost done. You can move the edges. But they are still a little too soft. So, 10 more minutes....

    And - for the record - it smells FABULOUS in the van!!!!

    4:30pm -

    We head back out to check on the progress of our van cookery.

    Shoes ON!
     They learned their lesson well. If it is hot enough to bake cookies in a van, it is hot enough to burn your feet on the concrete!


    The egg was done.

    Firm enough to touch (but Cookie Boy kept complaining it was hot!)

     A practically perfect yolk!

    The yolk is soft enough to pick up via fork, but firm enough that it does not slide off.

    The yolk was fully cooked. Really, it was over-cooked. The outside was kind of rubbery. It was soft inside, but not at all runny. The egg white stayed transparent, but was very hard to the touch!

    The cookies were not quite ready. Close - but still a little too soft in the middle.

    Almost ready!

    5:30pm - the cookies are DONE! The temp gauge stayed between 150-175, and it took a total of 3 hours to get the cookies fully baked.

    It smells soooo good!

    Shhhh - don't tell. I tried one out. Someone had to make sure they were fit to eat....

    They smell amazing.
    But we are waiting until after dinner to eat them.

    6:30pm - DESSERT!!!!!
    The cookies were very, very yummy. They were home-baked soft. The chips were still melty.

    Cookie Boy digs in. Stinker! He took the one I wanted!

    Blissfully happy!

    The Young Adult tries out, and approves, the Oatmeal Scotchies!

    Fully baked front

    Fully baked back


    This was a very successful experiment. While we wish it was not so hot, at least now we have some kind of reward for this miserable weather! And we did not heat up the house to do it!

    THE END!